Who doesn’t love a milkshake? Made of ice cream, milk, and other flavorings, milkshakes have become one of the best food inventions to come out of the United States, ever. (Screw soda and Baked Alaska and all our other food inventions!) Super sweet yet cool and refreshing, milkshakes have been around since the turn of the century, served at malt shops (where the malted milkshake was born) and soda fountains. The three classic flavors have always been the Big Three ice cream flavors as well: chocolate, strawberry, and today’s national food holiday, vanilla. Nowadays, the malt shops are a thing of the past, and milkshakes are most often found in nostalgic diners and ice cream shops. You can always tell the quality of a diner or ice cream parlor by the quality of their milkshakes 😉

I’m a huge fan of vanilla milkshakes, because it’s the one flavor you can’t really mess around with. When it comes to strawberry milkshakes, people are tempted to “make their mark” by adding other berries or flavors to the shake to make it a “signature” drink. The same goes with chocolate, where any number of sweet flavors can be in the mix. But when you order a vanilla milkshake, you know exactly what you’re getting: vanilla ice cream, a bit of vanilla flavoring, and fresh, clean-tasting milk. I don’t find any milkshake more refreshing and satisfying than plain ol’ vanilla.

Not many restaurants in New York City have taken on the challenge of reinventing the milkshake–perhaps that’ll be the next wave of faddish confections. Move over, macaron 😉 But you can get some inventive milkshake dishes around the city, starting with a milkshake that’s paired with a very interesting–and very indulgent–dessert. Lavo on 58th Street makes classic Italian dishes with high-end ingredients and modern twists, like Kobe beef meatballs and lobster fra diavolo bisque. But what they’re getting a lot of buzz for is one of their desserts: a deep-fried Oreo cookie accompanied by a vanilla milkshake. The nostalgic American flavors are all there, and the creaminess of the milkshake goes well with the crispy fried batter around the Oreo cookie. They call it an Oreo “zeppole”, but I just call it delicious. It’s so interesting to see deep-fried snacks like Oreos taken out of the state fair and into high-end restaurant territory. And the addition of the milkshake really puts it over the top for me: it makes this dessert much less of a novelty and much more a fully realized, delicious dish.

39 E 58th St (between Madison Ave & Park Ave)


“No matter how stuffed you may be at the end of your meal, skipping the fried Oreos (which are dipped in a thick vanilla milkshake) is a sin.”–CBS New York

Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“We split the Oreo zeppole for dessert. I had originally protested in disgust at the idea thereof, but let me tell you, that is one seriously good treat. Especially when dipped in the little vanilla milkshake that accompanies it. Do I lose my foodie status for admitting that I loved this?”–Steven H.

“Last but for foodies’ sake not least, the fried oreos w/ vanilla milkshake on the side……………….truly deserving of a moment in silence to revisit the paradise that was my dessert that very night. So basically, your a fool if you don’t order this to give closure to your already delish meal!!!!!”–Natalie C.


Recently, however, there has been a trend in New York gastropubs and higher-end burger joints to include milkshakes on their menus…but they’re not the malted shakes you knew growing up. Boozy milkshakes have become a popular drink in American fare restaurants, especially those looking to capitalize on the nostalgic feel of a burger, fries, and a milkshake, but update that meal for the adult crowd. One of the pioneers of the adult milkshake is BLT Burger, created by the French chef Laurent Tourondel, who looked to buck tradition by serving ultra-American cuisine with an upscale twist. For BLT Burger, he teamed with his expert sommelier to create the restaurant’s signature spiked milkshakes, mixing the best liquors with the creamiest of ice creams and milk. They offer quite a few vanilla milkshakes on the menu, including “Grandma’s Treat,” a mix of vanilla ice cream, caramel, and Maker’s Mark–definitely not something my grandmother ever let me sip as a kid! There’s also a selection of adult ice cream floats–the one involving bourbon and root beer intrigues me–and regular milkshakes, for those who are looking for their vanilla milkshake to be just “vanilla” tonight.

BLT Burger
470 6th Ave


“Another thing to love about milkshakes? Some restaurants add alcohol to them. Laurent Tourendel’s BLT Burger doesn’t stop at Kobe hot dogs and onion rings the size of 45s. His menu extras include vanilla milkshakes spiked with caramel and Makers Mark, or a coffee milkshake enhanced with a jig of Kahlua and espresso.”–CBS New York

“That shake is a favorite of Fred Dexheimer, a certified master sommelier who helped Mr. Tourondel hatch the original shake menu. (“I got teased a little bit by my colleagues,” he said. “ ‘MS means Master Shake-maker,’ things like that.”) The fact is, Mr. Dexheimer noted, alcohol and ice cream play very well together. All those syrupy liqueurs, anathema to the classic cocktail crowd, come into their own when used judiciously in shakes. And the harder stuff reveals depths of sweetness. “The inherent flavors of bourbon are vanilla and caramelization from the barrel,” he said.”–The New York Times

“BLT beverage czar Fred Dexheimer roams the booth-lined, wood-wainscoted premises, and his boozy touch is evident in the list of spiked milkshakes and fruity house cocktails.”–New York Magazine

Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“The menu is something I’d design if I were on death row, preparing for my final feast before the big dirt nap. They have a broad, quality beer selection that samples from some of the best local and national craft breweries (SixPoint, BluePoint, Ommegang), and that’s matched only by the creative quality of the boozed up milkshakes. Being a bourbon man, I ordered Grandma’s Treat, made with Maker’s Mark, Caramel, and Vanilla Ice Cream. The Caramel offset the bourbon quite well, and I look forward to going back and sampling the rest of their spiked shakes.”–Robert P.

“For what it’s worth, the burger here is good and served on a rather delicious toasted bun…and the milkshakes are inventive and pretty damn good. I had a Twinkie boy milkshake, which is pretty much what it sounds like – vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup, and honest-to-god Twinkies. The waffle fries (NTD: waffle fries are amazing!!) were crispy and had an excellent curly-fries seasoning.”–Audrey J.


Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!